Lithgow pictured in 2007
John Arthur Lithgow
October 19, 1945
Rochester, New York, U.S.
|Alma mater||Harvard College|
London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art
|Occupation||Actor, musician, poet, author, singer|
|Height||6 ft 4 in (193 cm)|
(m. 1966; div. 1980)
|Children||3, including Ian Lithgow|
John Arthur Lithgow (// LITH-goh; born October 19, 1945) is an American actor, musician, poet, author, and singer. He is the recipient of numerous accolades, including two Tony Awards, six Emmy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, four Drama Desk Awards, and has been nominated for two Academy Awards and four Grammy Awards. Lithgow has received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and has been inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame.
Lithgow is best known for his television roles as Dick Solomon in the sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun (1996–2001), Arthur Mitchell in the drama Dexter (2009), and Sir Winston Churchill in the drama The Crown (2016), for each of which he won Primetime Emmy Awards.
In film, he is also well known for his film roles in Blow Out (1981), Footloose (1984), Harry and the Hendersons (1987), Shrek (2001) and Love is Strange (2014). His performances in the films The World According to Garp (1982) and Terms of Endearment (1983) each earned him Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor.
On the stage, he has appeared in many Broadway productions including the musical adaptations of Sweet Smell of Success and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. In 2007, he made his Royal Shakespeare Company debut as Malvolio in Neil Bartlett's production of Twelfth Night. In 2019 he starred on Broadway opposite Laurie Metcalf in Hillary and Clinton.
Lithgow was born in Rochester, New York. His mother, Sarah Jane (née Price), was a retired actress. His father, Arthur Washington Lithgow III, was a theatrical producer and director who ran the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, New Jersey. His father was born in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, to an American-Dominican family of Scottish, English and French descent. Lithgow is descended from Mayflower passenger and colonial governor William Bradford. Because of his father's job, the family moved frequently during Lithgow's childhood; he spent his childhood years in Yellow Springs, Ohio, where activist Coretta Scott King babysat him and his siblings; he spent his teenage years in Akron (living at Stan Hywet Hall) and Lakewood, Ohio.
Lithgow graduated from Princeton High School in Princeton. He attended Harvard College, and graduated with an A.B. magna cum laude in 1967, in history and literature. Lithgow lived in Adams House as an undergraduate, and later served on Harvard's Board of Overseers. He credits a performance at Harvard of Gilbert and Sullivan's Utopia Limited with helping him decide to become an actor. After graduation, Lithgow won a Fulbright Scholarship to study at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. Also, after graduation, he served as the Director of the Arts and Literature Department at WBAI, the Pacifica radio station in New York City.
In 1973, Lithgow debuted on Broadway in David Storey's The Changing Room at the Morosco Theatre. Lithgow received his first Tony and win for his performance for Featured Actor in a Play. He also won a Drama Desk Award. The following year he starred again on Broadway in the comedy play My Fat Friend opposite Lynn Redgrave at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. In 1976 he starred on Broadway in Arthur Miller's A Memory of Two Mondays opposite Meryl Streep and Tom Hulce at the Playhouse Theatre.
In 1985 he starred in Requiem for a Heavyweight written by Rod Serling at the Martin Beck Theatre. In 1986 he starred in The Manhatten Project directed by Marshall Brickman. He was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play losing to Derek Jacobi in Much Ado About Nothing. In 1988 he starred in John Dexter's M. Butterfly alongside B.D. Wong (in his Broadway debut) at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre.
In 2002, Lithgow starred as J.J. Hunsecker in the Broadway adaptation of the 1957 film Sweet Smell of Success alongside Brian D'Arcy James. Lithgow won the Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical for his performance. In 2005, He was starred on Broadway in the musical-comedy Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. alongside Norbert Leo Butz at the Imperial Theatre. While both were nominated for the Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical, Butz won over Lithgow. That same year Lithgow was elected into the American Theater Hall of Fame for his work on Broadway.
In 2004 and 2007, Lithgow debuted Carnival of the Animals' elephant character — nurse Mabel Buntz — with the New York City Ballet and Houston Ballet, respectively. In 2007, Lithgow played Malvolio in the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of Twelfth Night, at The Courtyard Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, United Kingdom.
In 2008 through 2009, Lithgow played Joe Keller in a Broadway revival of Arthur Miller's All My Sons directed by Simon McBurney. Lithgow starred alongside Dianne Wiest, Patrick Wilson and Katie Holmes in her Broadway debut at the Schoenfeld Theare.
In 2010 Lithgow starred in the Off Broadway production of Douglas Carter Beane's comedy Mr & Mrs Fitch alongside Jennifer Ehle at the Second Stage Theatre from February 22, 2010 to April 4, 2010. In 2012 Lithgow returned to Broadway in David Auburn's new play The Columnist which played at the Manhattan Theatre Club with previews starting on April 4, 2012. The performance earned him a nomination for the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play.
It was announced in February 2014 that he would return to Central Park's Delacorte Theater and Shakespeare in the Park for the 2014 summer season in the title role of Shakespeare's King Lear directed by Tony Award Winner Daniel Sullivan. The production was the play's first there since 1973 and Lithgow's first time there since 1975, when he had played Laertes.
In Fall 2014, Lithgow returned to Broadway as Tobias in a revival of Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance. He starred opposite Glenn Close, Martha Plimpton, Lindsay Duncan, Bob Balaban and Clare Higgins. Pam MacKinnon directed the limited 18-week production at the John Golden Theatre.
Lithgow starred in the solo play John Lithgow: Stories by Heart, which opened on Broadway on January 11, 2018 at the American Airlines Theatre, written by Lithgow. Lithgow has performed this play around the US, starting at the Lincoln Center Theater in 2008, with a return performance at Lincoln Center slated for April to May 2019.
Lithgow starred as Bill Clinton opposite Laurie Metcalf as Hillary Clinton in the Lucas Hnath play Hillary and Clinton on Broadway at the John Golden Theatre. Joe Mantello directed. The play opened on April 18, 2019 and closed on June 23, 2019.
In 1972, Lithgow made his film debut in Dealing: Or the Berkeley-to-Boston Forty-Brick Lost-Bag Blues. In 1976 he starred in a pivotal role in Brian De Palma's Obsession with Cliff Robertson and Genevieve Bujold as Cliff Robertson's long time business partner Robert Lasalle.
In 1979, Lithgow appeared in Bob Fosse's semi-autobiographical movie All That Jazz as Lucas Sergeant. The character was loosely based on the real-life Broadway director and choreographer Michael Bennett, known for his work on Follies, Company, Dreamgirls and A Chorus Line.
In 1982 and 1983, Lithgow was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performances as Roberta Muldoon in The World According to Garp and as Sam Burns in Terms of Endearment. Both films were screen adaptations of popular novels. In 1984, Lithgow also played a pastor who condemns dancing in Footloose.
In 1983, Lithgow appeared in a remake of the classic Twilight Zone episode "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" in Twilight Zone: The Movie as the paranoid passenger made famous on the television show by William Shatner. In an interview with Bill Moyers, Lithgow reveals this role as his favorite of his film career. In 1987, Lithgow starred in the Bigfoot-themed family comedy Harry and the Hendersons.
In 1991, he starred in the movie Ricochet opposite Denzel Washington as Earl Talbot Blake, a criminal seeking revenge against the policeman who sent him to prison. Also in 1991, he played missionary Leslie Huben in the film adaptation of Peter Matthiessen's novel At Play in the Fields of the Lord. In 1992, he starred as a man with multiple personality disorder in Brian De Palma's film Raising Cain.
In 2001, Lithgow gained iconic recognition for voicing the evil Lord Farquaad in the Academy Award winning DreamWorks Animated film Shrek alongside Mike Meyers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz. In 2002, he narrated Life's Greatest Miracle, a documentary about human embryonic development.
In 2004, he portrayed the moralistic, rigid father of Alfred Kinsey in that year's biopic Kinsey alongside Liam Neeson. In 2006, Lithgow had a small role in the Academy Award-winning film Dreamgirls, as Jerry Harris, a film producer offering Deena Jones (Beyoncé Knowles) a film role. In 2010, he briefly appeared in the romantic comedy Leap Year playing Amy Adams' dad.
Lithgow gained critical attention for starring in Ira Sachs' independent romance film Love is Strange (2014) alongside Alfred Molina. The film received a 94% on Rotten Tomatoes with the consensus reading, "Held aloft by remarkable performances from John Lithgow and Alfred Molina, Love Is Strange serves as a graceful tribute to the beauty of commitment in the face of adversity." The film also received four Independent Spirit Award nominations including for both Lithgow and Molina.
Lithgow then starred in the independent film Beatriz at Dinner (2017) alongside Salma Hayek, Connie Britton, Jay Duplass, and Chloe Sevigny. The film is certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with the consensus reading, "Beatriz at Dinner offers timely social commentary enlivened by powerful, layered performances from Salma Hayek and John Lithgow."
In 2019, Lithgow co-starred in Mindy Kaling's comedy Late Night, with Emma Thompson. The film premiered at the Sundance film festival where it received glowing reviews, and was theatrically released June 7, 2019. He will also play Roger Ailes, alongside Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie, Allison Janney, Connie Britton, and Malcolm McDowell in a Jay Roach film set to be released December 20, 2019.
In television, Lithgow is probably most widely known for his starring role as Dick Solomon in the 1996–2001 NBC sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun. He received six consecutive nominations for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series and won three times (1996, 1997, 1999). His son Ian regularly appeared alongside him as Leon, one of his physics students.
In 1986, Lithgow received a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for his appearance in the episode The Doll of the Amazing Stories anthology series.
Additionally, Lithgow has been nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or a Special for The Day After (1983), and two Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Special for Resting Place (1986) and My Brother's Keeper (1995). Lithgow was approached about playing Dr. Frasier Crane on Cheers, but turned it down. Lithgow starred with Jeffrey Tambor in the NBC sitcom Twenty Good Years.
Since 2006 he has starred in Campbell Soup Company's commercials advertising their Campbell's Select premium soup brand.
In September 2009, Lithgow joined the cast of Dexter as Arthur Mitchell, a serial killer and Dexter Morgan's nemesis. He won a Golden Globe Award for this role, and won an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor In A Drama Series.
In his most recent television role Lithgow portrayed the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Winston Churchill in the first season of the prestigious and critically acclaimed Netflix Historical Drama series The Crown (2017) opposite Claire Foy. Lithgow won numerous awards for his performance including a Primetime Emmy Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award.
Lithgow has done extensive work for children, including several books and albums. Some of his book titles are Marsupial Sue, Marsupial Sue Presents "The Runaway Pancake," Lithgow Party Paloozas!: 52 Unexpected Ways to Make a Birthday, Holiday, or Any Day a Celebration for Kids, Carnival of the Animals, A Lithgow Palooza: 101 Ways to Entertain and Inspire Your Kids, I'm a Manatee, Micawber, The Remarkable Farkle McBride, Mahalia Mouse Goes to College and I Got Two Dogs. He also appeared as a guest on the Canadian children's program, Ants in Your Pants.
Lithgow launched into a career as a recording artist with the 1999 album of children's music, Singin' in the Bathtub. In June 2002, Lithgow released his second children's album Farkle and Friends. It was the musical companion to his book The Remarkable Farkle McBride, which tells the story of a young musical genius. Farkle and Friends features the vocal talents of Lithgow and Bebe Neuwirth backed by the Bill Elliott Swing Orchestra. In August 2006, Lithgow released The Sunny Side of the Street, his third children's album and first with Razor & Tie. This album features versions of classic songs from The Great American Songbook including "Getting to Know You" and "Ya Gotta Have Pep". Produced by JC Hopkins, the album features guest appearances by Madeleine Peyroux, Wayne Knight, Sherie Rene Scott and Maude Maggart. Lithgow also makes occasional appearances on stage and television singing children's songs and accompanying himself on guitar.
On October 1, 2010, Lithgow appeared on Doug Benson's podcast Doug Loves Movies, along with fellow guests Paul F. Tompkins and Jimmy Pardo. He has also appeared on Chris Hardwick's show The Nerdist Podcast in 2012 and the WTF with Marc Maron podcast in 2019.
Between 1978-80, Lithgow appeared in ten episodes of the radio drama revival series CBS Radio Mystery Theater.
Lithgow voiced the character of Yoda in the National Public Radio adaptations of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. He provided narration for the IMAX film Special Effects: Anything Can Happen. He hosts Paloozaville, a children's Video on Demand program on Mag Rack based on his best-selling children's books. He appeared in the most recent Campbell's SelectSoups commercials, portraying a restaurant waiter serving "customers" in their own household. He often delivers commencement addresses at American universities. Lithgow also appears in Books By You, a children's computer game, and guides them through the steps to finish a pre-designed book.
In 2005, Lithgow became the first actor ever to deliver a commencement speech at Harvard University and received an honorary Doctor of Arts from his alma mater. He was featured at Heinz Hall in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on December 4–6, 2009 for performances of Mozart's Requiem with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. He narrated some letters written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, some poems, and sections from the Book of Revelation in certain parts of the performance.
In September 2011, Lithgow was featured in a one-night only production of Dustin Lance Black's play, 8 — a staged reenactment of the federal trial that overturned California's Prop 8 ban on same-sex marriage — as Attorney Theodore Olson to raise money for the American Foundation for Equal Rights.
- All That Jazz (1979)
- Blow Out (1981)
- The World According to Garp (1982)
- Terms of Endearment (1983)
- Footloose (1984)
- The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984)
- Santa Claus: The Movie (1985)
- The Manhattan Project (1986)
- Harry and the Hendersons (1987)
- L.A. Story (1991)
- The Pelican Brief (1993)
- Cliffhanger (1993)
- A Good Man In Africa (1994)
- A Civil Action (1998)
- Rugrats in Paris: The Movie (2000)
- Shrek (2001)
- The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (2004)
- Kinsey (2004)
- Dreamgirls (2006)
- Confessions of a Shopaholic (2009)
- Leap Year (2010)
- Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
- This is 40 (2012)
- Love is Strange (2014)
- Interstellar (2014)
- The Homesman (2014)
- Best of Enemies (2015)
- Miss Sloane (2016)
- Beatriz at Dinner (2017)
- Daddy's Home 2 (2017)
- Pitch Perfect 3 (2017)
- Late Night (2019)
- Pet Sematary (2019)
- Untitled Charles Randolph project (2019)
Awards and Nominations
Lithgow married Jean Taynton, a teacher, in 1966. The couple had one son together, actor and clinical psychologist Ian (born 1972). Lithgow and his wife separated after he had an affair with actress Liv Ullmann, with the marriage ending in divorce in 1980. Lithgow married UCLA history professor Mary Yeager in 1981, and they had a son, Nathan, and a daughter, Phoebe.
- Singin' in the Bathtub (1999, Sony Wonder)
- Farkle & Friends (2002, Kid Rhino)
- The Sunny Side of the Street (2006, Razor & Tie)
- Remarkable Farkle McBride (2000, Simon & Schuster)
- Marsupial Sue (2001, Simon & Schuster)
- Micawber (2002, Simon & Schuster)
- I'm a Manatee (2003, Simon & Schuster)
- A Lithgow Palooza (2004, Simon & Schuster)
- Carnival of the Animals (2004, Simon & Schuster)
- Lithgow Party Paloozas!: 52 Unexpected Ways to Make a Birthday, Holiday, or Any Day a Celebration for Kids (2005, Simon & Schuster)
- Lithgow Paloozas!: Boredom Blasters (2005, Running Press)
- Marsupial Sue Presents "The Runaway Pancake" (2005, Simon & Schuster)
- Mahalia Mouse Goes to College (2007, Simon & Schuster)
- I Got Two Dogs (2008, Simon & Schuster)
- Alvin Powell, "Lithgow to speak at Afternoon Exercises: Actor, writer, humanitarian to grace Tercentenary Theatre", Harvard Gazette, 2005-04-07.
- HFPA Nominations and Winners HFPA Nominations and Winners Archived 2010-12-12 at the Wayback Machine
- "John Lithgow Biography (1945–)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 2013-02-26.
- "John Lithgow Biography – Yahoo! Movies". Movies.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2013-02-26.
- "Excerpt: "Drama" by John Lithgow - A Midsummer Night's Dream - Coretta Scott King". Scribd. Retrieved 24 May 2017.
- Breckenridge, Mary Beth (2013-04-19). "Actor Lithgow Revisits Akron Roots". Akron Beacon Journal. Archived from the original on 2014-04-14. Retrieved 2013-04-21.
- NBC. "Former Akronite John Lithgow takes on killer role for 'Dexter'". cleveland.com. Retrieved 2013-02-26.
- LaGorce, Tammy. "John Lithgow Sings of the Sewer, and Other Funny Stuff", The New York Times, November 11, 2007. Accessed December 10, 2018. "The visit will allow Mr. Lithgow, a Princeton High School graduate, to catch up with a few school friends still in the area, he said, and to relive 'loads of fond memories' of the 1960s, when his father, Arthur Lithgow, ran the McCarter Theater downtown."
- "'Stupid mistake' changed John Lithgow's life – for the better < News". PopMatters. 2006-10-09. Retrieved 2013-02-26.
- "Theater Hall of Fame inducts Thompson, Lithgow, others". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
- "John Lithgow adds Houston Ballet dancer to his résumé,". The Houston Chronicle.
- Billington, Michael. "Theatre review: 'Twelfth Night', The Courtyard, Stratford-upon-Avon", The Guardian,September 6, 2007
- Cohen, Patricia. "Two Fathers Are Learning Lessons of 'All My Sons' ", The New York Times, November 12, 2008
- Hernandez, Ernio. "Blurb vs. Blog: Lithgow and Ehle are Gossipers 'Mr. & Mrs. Fitch', Opening Off-Broadway Feb. 22" playbill.com, February 22, 2010
- Jones, Kenneth. "John Lithgow Is David Auburn's 'The Columnist', Beginning Broadway Previews April 4" playbill.com, April 4, 2012
- Kozinn, Allan (2014-02-13). "Shakespeare in the Park Lineup: 'Much Ado About Nothing' and 'King Lear'". The New York Times.
- "What Play Can Come Along Next Season That Will Be More Star-Studded Than A Delicate Balance?". Retrieved 24 May 2017.
- Clement, Olivia. "Check Out John Lithgow in 'Stories by Heart' on Broadway" Playbill, January 9, 2018
- " John Lithgow: Stories By Heart 2008" lct.org, retrieved January 10, 2018
- " John Lithgow: Stories by Heart 2019 lct.org, retrieved January 11, 2018
- Clement, Olivia. " 'Hillary and Clinton' Closes on Broadway" Playbill, June 23, 2019
- Stasio, Marrilyn. "Broadway Review: Laurie Metcalf and John Lithgow in 'Hillary and Clinton'" Variety, April 18, 2019
- "John Lithgow Filmography". The Washington Post. Retrieved 6 June 2019.
- "Bill Moyers Journal . Watch & Listen". PBS. Retrieved 2013-02-26.
- Miska, Brad (June 23, 2010). "John Lithgow a Fatherly Figure for 'Planet of the Apes' Prequel". Bloody Disgusting. Los Angeles, California: The Collective. Retrieved May 24, 2017.
- Moore, Debi (October 5, 2012). "Trinity, a War Machine, and a Slumdog Eying Planet of the Apes: Rise of the Apes". Dreadcentral.com. Los Angeles, California. Retrieved February 26, 2013.
- "TV: Showtime's 'Dexter' Posts Record-Breaking Ratings - Bloody Disgusting!". www.bloody-disgusting.com. Retrieved 24 May 2017.
- 2009 Golden Globe Nominees HFPA Nominations and Winners Archived 2010-12-12 at the Wayback Machine
- "2010 Emmy Nominations Include a Few Horror Favorites". Dreadcentral.com. 2010-07-08. Retrieved 2013-02-26.
- Michael Ausiello (2011-02-17). "HIMYM Exclusive First Look: How Barney Met His Father". TVLine. Retrieved 2013-02-26.
- Hughes, William (February 16, 2016). "John Lithgow to spoof Making a Murderer and The Jinx for NBC". The A.V. Club. Retrieved February 21, 2016.
- Moore, Frazier (March 9, 2017). "Lithgow has you guessing, laughing, in 'Trial & Error'". Detroit News. Detroit, Michigan: Digital First Media. Associated Press. Retrieved October 22, 2018.
- Goldberg, Bryn Elise (June 18, 2015). "John Lithgow, Matt Smith cast in Netflix's 'The Crown'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 21, 2016.
- Ryan, Mike (April 2, 2015). "That Time John Lithgow Played Yoda And Ed Asner Played Jabba The Hutt". Uproxx. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
-  Archived 2008-07-18 at the Wayback Machine booksbyyou.com.au
- Beth Potier, "Of mice and manatees: Lithgow charms all: Commencement address gives star treatment by actor, author", Harvard Gazette, 2008-06-16.
- Avery, Mary Ellen (9 June 2005). "Harvard awards 8 honorary degrees". Harvard University Gazette. Archived from the original on 20 July 2008.
- The Harvard Crimson Staff (9 June 2005). "Eight to Receive Honorary Degrees". The Harvard Crimson.
- "Honorary Degrees". Harvard University.
- "'Requiem' an extraordinary Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra tribute to Mozart - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review". Pittsburghlive.com. 2009-12-05. Archived from the original on 2009-12-13. Retrieved 2013-02-26.
- "Prop 8 Play On Broadway Makes Its Debut". The Huffington Post. 2011-09-20. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
- Perkins, Dennis (March 19, 2018). "John Oliver hijacks homophobe Mike Pence's bunny book with a better one in A Day In The Life Of Marlon Bundo". AV Club. Retrieved March 19, 2018.
- Hoby, Hermione (2015-02-19). "John Lithgow: 'I just can't say no'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2018-01-28.
- "Faculty: Professor Mary Yeager". UCLA Department of History. Retrieved 2018-01-28.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to John Lithgow.|
- Official website
- John Lithgow at the Internet Broadway Database
- John Lithgow at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- John Lithgow on IMDb
- John Lithgow at the TCM Movie Database
- John Lithgow at FEARnet
- Profile of John Lithgow – Downstage Center
- 2006 bio article on Lithgow
- Razor and Tie Artist Page
- Razor and Tie Media Page at the Wayback Machine (archived October 4, 2006)
- TonyAwards.com Interview with John Lithgow at the Wayback Machine (archived April 23, 2007)
- John Lithgow speaks at the Oxonian Society November 15, 2007
- NYPL gallery of selected stage production photographs, 1967-1988